Uniting the Democrats

The convention has begun amid the speculation that many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are disenchanted. Already the McCain campaign is using clips from the primary season showing Mrs. Clinton attacking Barack Obama’s readiness to lead. Concern is also felt within the Obama camp about whether President Bill Clinton will deliver an enthusiastic and heartfelt endorsement. Last night the convention began and it was clear that there is one major objective, and it is unity. Democrats are known to scrabble among themselves and sometimes have carried their divisions into the presidential campaign. We can recall the events of 1968 in Chicago where protesters disrupted the convention and we can also recall Ted Kennedy’s rather lukewarm support of the Democratic nominee, President Carter. In both cases the Democrats lost the elections.

Yesterday, we were treated to an emotional and poignant moment when Senator Kennedy, against the wishes of his doctors and wife, made the trip to Denver to enthusiastically endorse Barack Obama. He spoke about an election where ‘the torch would be passed to a new generation’. He closed by saying that ‘the dream lives on’, a reference to the hopes and aspirations of his late brothers’ campaigns. Clearly, this is the stuff of unity and judging from the tears in the Pepsi Centre, it did the trick. Michelle Obama followed and delivered a speech that said more about the Obama family and their values than it did about Senator Obama’s qualifications. It was an inspiring speech and very well delivered. Again, the stuff of unity.

Tonight the Democrats celebrate the 88th anniversary of the right to vote for women. If anyone deserves to address the convention on that issue, it is probably Hillary. She ran the most ambitious campaign ever by a woman candidate. And as she so rightly says, with 18 million votes, she has paved the way for women in the future and in all walks of life. She will deliver a speech that will attack John McCain and the Bush legacy but she will also give her full support and commitment to helping Barack Obama become the next president of the United States of America. Outside of Obama’s speech on Thursday, this will be the highlight of the convention. This will be the critical point of unity. The success or failure of this convention could well be decided tonight.

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